Gadgets and Games

With Google Translate, Nothing's Lost in Translation



Thanks to Google, you may never get lost again. 

Google’s Android translation app can now translate conversations between languages in real time. This sure piqued my interest: I’m in the process of planning a trip abroad. It made me realize how easy it will be in the year 2011 to communicate across International borders. 

And it's incredibly easy to use. 

Simply put, the new Google Translate app will let you have a conversation with someone speaking another language. They say something to you in Spanish and the phone will translate that aloud to you in English. You reply in English and it’ll translate to them in Spanish. It’s like hiring a professional translator -- except it’s built right into your phone. 

I’ve been really impressed with the amount of research and innovation this evidences on the part of Google’s translation department. It’s one thing to translate words; it’s another thing entirely to translate meaning and context. So every time you use these services it helps Google learn the nuance of those languages.  

For instance I booked a reservation at a rustic French hotel that doesn't take online reservations. And instantly I broke out in a cold sweat: Most days, I ever use the Internet to do, well, everything. And a phone call to the hotel would have been a comedy of errors, since neither my wife nor I speak French. 

Enter Google Translate. We typed out an e-mail in English requesting a reservation for a few days in February, converted it into French using Google Translate, and then sent it along hoping that we didn’t offend the French recipient. 

The next day a reply e-mail arrived in French, none of which we understood, of course. Something about a “voulez-vous coucher avec moi” -- or words to that effect. It sounded interesting so we copied the text into Google Translate and realized our reservation was secured. Très bien!

But what happens when I arrive in France and they don’t (or won’t) speak English? That’s where my iPhone will come in handy. I just bought a translation app from iSpeak in the iTunes Store which uses Google’s translations services. It’s not only a text translator but also a voice translator! Simply type an English phrase into the phone and it’ll speak a French version of the phrase out loud. What’s even more amazing is that the voice sounds like a real French person -- not some computerized digital voice. And it sounds much nicer speaking French than I will, that’s for sure. 

It’s remarkable how far technology has progressed. Which reminds me, Oú est le vin et le fromage? Translation: Where’s the wine and cheese progressed to? 

Clayton Morris is a Fox and Friends host. Follow Clayton's adventures online on Twitter @ClaytonMorris and by reading his daily updates at his blog.